VOCAL HERALDRY: A General Overview


So you want to be a vocal herald. Compiled here from various sources from many kingdoms is information to give an overview of the subject for people interested in vocal heraldry. There are many areas one can participate in. Among the activities of vocal heraldry are the focuses of:

A.   Event heraldry   (making general announcements)
B.   Field heraldry   (calling competitors to the list field(s), announcing round match-ups, etc.)
C.   Feast heraldry   (announcing courses, introducing entertainment, etc.)
D.   Court heraldry   (acting as the Voice of Royalty, calling people into court, reading awards, etc.)

Additional areas that impact upon a vocal herald included in this article are:

E.   Award Reports    
F.   Processionals    
G.   Vocal Herald's Attire    
H.   Getting Started    
I.   General Advice    
A) Event Heraldry                                             {also see additional article: Running Heraldry for an Event}

This involves announcing (crying) to the assembled populace any important messages or information they need to know. If this is done at a large site, it may require the herald to go to several different spots and repeat the announcements to ensure that everyone is made aware of them.

Make someone the "Herald in Charge of Announcements".

Whether this is you or someone you select, this person will be the central coordinator for the cries that are made at the event. Have all the announcement heralds report to them. The coordinator will take down all the information for announcements to be made and pass the info on to the heralds who cry the event. Whether these announcements are made as they arrive, or at preset intervals, will depend on the size and type of event and local customs. Make sure the coordinator reminds the heralds to make the announcements in enough positions that the entire site is covered. The coordinator will also keep a list of those who have business to conduct at court, and what the business is, to present to the Baronage and/or Royalty.

When someone comes to Herald’s Point and asks that an announcement be made, the coordinator (or whoever is taking the information) should be sure to get the activity along with any relevant time and/or place for the activity. This will help avoid confusion.

As a vocal herald you will be asked to make announcements of various kinds. Normally these requests are made by the Crown, the event autocrat, or group officers. It is clear that some announcements must be made right away without question. If someone's infant has run off, you should drop what you are doing and announce it immediately. If the Crown requests you to announce something, you do it. However there are cases where you must take into consideration the content of the announcement, and who is asking for the announcement. If you feel uncomfortable about the appropriateness or timeliness of a requested announcement, politely inform the person you need to check with the autocrat/announcement coordinator when they wish general announcements to be made. Then do so. This gives you a chance to express your concerns with a colleague or higher-up on what to say, and how. If it is determined that the announcement should not be made, it comes better from people in authority to refuse or delay it. However, only as a last resort (and under extreme circumstances) should you refuse to make an announcement. The occasion should be very rare. Remember a herald is a public servant. You should serve. Failing to do so causes hard feelings.

Once you have decided to make an announcement, what should you do? First, get the attention of the populace. This is the most overlooked part of effective speaking. The usual litany is, "My Lords and Ladies, pray attend," or some variant thereof. If you have a staff, and the footing allows such, you can additionally tap your staff to call for quiet. Make sure that the crowd is quiet before you start your announcement. This can (unfortunately) take a little bit of time. If needed, repeat the opening attention phrase clearly and insistently until you have the crowd's attention. If you rush into the body of the announcement, you frequently will get drowned out by people either "helpfully" screaming "Attend the herald!" or mumbling to their neighbor what you just said. In either case, the message gets missed. If you can phrase the body of your announcement "forsoothly," make every effort to do so. It helps add to the ambiance as well as deliver your message. There are many catchwords in the SCA for mundane objects (far-speaker for telephone, fire-chariot for car, soul-stealer for camera, etc.) that can be used. But be cautious. If you aren't familiar with the terms, don't use them; use straightforward Modern English. Better that the announcement be clearly understood, than anything else.

While event announcing is majorly making proclamations (for the autocrat/event official, the Crown, etc.), at camping events it can include making the "Morning Wake-Up Call". The "Morning Wake-Up Call" involves making a round of the camping areas, greeting the populace, announcing that the event activities will be beginning soon. Check with the autocrat for what needs to be included in the morning announcements and what time the call should be made. The difference between this and normal event announcing is that people are asleep when you begin. Because of this it is important that the herald doing the "Wake-Up Call" does it slowly, clearly, and in as simple and logical a manner as possible. Make sure to give enough "lead intro" into the announcement to guarantee that people are awake enough to hear the announcement. A sample cry:

"Good Gentles, I greet you this fine morning. The time is eight a.m. and this is your wake up call. The autocrat requests that all vehicles be removed to the parking area. Morning court will be held at nine-o’clock in front of Their Majesties' Pavilion. Armor inspection will begin at ten-o'clock at the list field located by the large gold tent facing the south point. Thus end the morning announcements. Thank you."

Many heralds dislike event announcing because they find it boring, but there are ways to make it less tedious. Add a little "patter" to the announcements. Or make the announcements a group effort by getting multiple heralds and do the announcing in parts. Two ways of using the multiple herald cries are the "Echo Announcement" and the "In Part Announcement". The Echo Announcement involves the first herald makes the first part of the announcement, then the second herald repeats that, followed by the third, and so on. When all have repeated the line, you move on to the next. An example of this is:

First herald:   "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez, Pray attend an important announcement from the autocrat."
Second herald:   "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez, Pray attend an important announcement from the autocrat."
Third herald:   "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez, Pray attend an important announcement from the autocrat."
First herald:   "All vehicles must be moved to the parking lot by eight-o'clock."
Second herald:   "All vehicles must be moved to the parking lot by eight-o'clock."
Third herald:   "All vehicles must be moved to the parking lot by eight-o'clock."

The second method, the In Part Announcement, is for each herald to take a different line. Such as:

First herald:   "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez, Pray attend to these important announcements."
Second herald:   "All vehicles must be moved to the parking lot by eight-o'clock."
Third herald:   "Armor inspection will begin at ten-o'clock at the list field."
First herald (again):   "The archery tournament will begin at ten-thirty."

However the announcing is done, it is important that the details of the announcements are clear.

Another aspect that you will encounter is when members of the populace approach you about making a presentation to the Crown. If they are available, direct the requester to either the herald in charge of court or a chamberlain of the Crown. If this is not possible, you should take down the name of the presenter and presentation information (what it is and what it’s being present for <personal gift, regalia, largesse, etc>). Then pass this information on to the herald who is in charge of court (or chamberlain) as soon as possible.

Because of the possibility of receiving these requests, it is suggested that you should carry 3x5 cards and a pen at all times.

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B) Field Heraldry

This involves acting as field herald. This is done usually for the fighting tournaments, but other kinds of tourneys may require similar services. Specific procedures are widely variant depending on local customs. But basically this entails announcing to both the tournament participants and the assembled audience who is to report to the list field now, who should be preparing for the next round, and who is in line after that. The declaration of the winner, is sometimes done the herald, and sometimes by the knight marshall in charge. Before the tourney begins, check with the marshall to determine how this is to be handled.

Make someone the "Herald in Charge of Combat".

Whether this is you or someone you select, this person will be the central coordinator for the tournament heralding. Have all field/tournament heralds report to them. They will work closely with both the Marshall in Charge (MiC) and the Minister/Mistress of the List (MoL). Remind the heralds that the MiC has the final word on all matters dealing with the tournament, even those relating to heraldry. Remind the tournament herald coordinator that they should get with the MoL before things get started and ask them to put phonetic spellings on the list cards (along with the actual spellings) so that the field heralds can "get the names right". Remember that some of your help may not be as familiar with the correct pronunciation of some names as you are. However, do not get in the way of the MoL. If they are not willing to get the phonetic spellings, or to let the herald get them and place them on the cards, then you will have to do without. However, most MoLs are very friendly and helpful and will be delighted to assist if approached in advance. The exact arrangement of what is to be announced and how, will vary depending on the size and type of tournament being held, and the customs of the group or kingdom the event is held in.


If you are the Herald in Charge of Combat:

1. Before the list, check with the MoL. Make sure they know who you are.

2. Find out the format of the lists (both for your information and that of the other heralds). Be sure that all the heralds working the tourney are familiar with the format. Possible formats are:

Single elimination: This is the simplest form of list. In this style, the fighters are paired off in twos, the victor from each pairing gong on to the next round, fighting the other winners (the losers are eliminated), and so on until finally only one remains.

Double elimination: Similar to the above, except that the loser of each pairing is given a second chance. When a fighter has lost in two pairings, that fighter is eliminated from the tournament.

Round Robin: In this style, each fighter is paired once against every other fighter in the list once.

Two out of Three: This can be a modification of any of the above styles of list (one can have single elimination--two out of three; double elimination--two out of three, or round robin--two out of three). Instead of the winner of each competition being determined by winning once, the fighters instead fight the best two of three. Note that this is different from double-elimination in that, in double-elimination, a fighter is eliminated by losing in two different pairings in two different rounds; in two out of three, the winner of a pairing is determined by more than one "fall."

You should also find out is if Byes will be fought or unfought and whether they are destructive or non-destructive. If there are an odd numbers of fighters in a round, a randomly chosen fighter remains unpaired. That fighter is said to have drawn a "Bye." In some styles of list, the Bye fighter goes unmolested into the next round. Because this allows one fighter to be at an advantage, that fighter is sometimes made to fight against a champion who is not in the tournament. If the fought Bye is non-destructive, this is simply to tire the fighter out. If the Bye is destructive, then if the fighter loses, it is the same as if the loss was to a participant in the tourney.

Another aspect to find out is if there are retained deaths in the final rounds. In a tourney where deaths have accumulated (Double elimination and Round Robin), some fighters may enter the final round with more deaths than others. Because this places one fighter at a disadvantage, sometimes all deaths are declared to be set to zero and the final round is fought on an even footing.

Finally, determine is there will be a Round Robin finish. Since in a single or double elimination tourney an odd number of fighters may enter the final 2 rounds, it is sometimes decided to end these with a round robin finish. Rather than drawing a bye for the final round, the remaining fighters will fight round robin until one remains. This may also involve retaining deaths (if this was double elimination).

3. At the first opportunity, make the call for heralds to assist.

4. At this point, make a roster of candidates and arrange the schedule to keep fresh heralds on the field. (When making up schedule, keep in mind the factors of who has a strong voice, how long their voices will last, how much experience they have, etc. Many coordinators consider eight fights, give or take, a good number to have each herald cry.)

5. Make sure that the heralds known approximately when in the tourney they are needed and who they follow.

6. Arrange for runners for the list cards (can use the next herald up).

7. Arrange for novices to have teachers close by.

8. Once the list has started, tend to heralds on the field. (Keep water around. If they sound tired, pull them.)


If you are a field herald (assisting the Herald in Charge of Combat):

1. Field heralds should be familiar with the rules of combat.

2. Remember that the marshal is in charge of the field. (This includes the heralds.)

3. Be on the field only to do heraldic duties (call the round, introduce the match/salutes, announce the winner.) Otherwise you should position yourself just off the field.

4. Pay attention to what is happening on the field.

5. Wait for the marshal to indicate the victor before announcing it.

6. When standing off the field, do not block the MoL's view.

7. Never react to anything that happens in the course of combat. It is considered inappropriate for a herald on duty to call a point of chivalry or to cheer one fighter.

8. It is also considered inappropriate for a herald on duty to discuss or make judgmental comments from the sideline to those nearby, even in conversation.

9. Be prepared to call for a chiurgeon should the need arise. Know where the closest one is.

10. If there is more than one fighting fields being run at the same time (and hence several heralds making announcements), be polite and never make your announcement while another herald is speaking. Wait until they are finished, then begin your announcement.


An example of field heraldry

There is a basic formula that field heralds follow. This includes:

Opening the Tourney
Announcing the Order of Combat
Calling the Entrants to the Field
Performing the Salutes
Announcing the Victor

A scenario of a formal-style tourney might run as follows (but remember that specifics will vary by law and custom from Kingdom to Kingdom):

The herald(s) introduce themselves to the MiC and MoL. The herald(s) receive the set of cards grouped by matches for the round. (The MoL may ask you to mark the winner and loser of each match on the cards.)

To start the tournament, the herald assigned the first round announces the opening of the tourney. For example:

"Oyez, Oyez, my Lords and Ladies, good gentiles all, here begins the Golden Falcon Tournament.

Be sure to address the royalty or ruling nobility first, if such are present.

At the beginning of a round the herald for that round calls all the fighters to the center of the field and announces the pairings for the round. For example:

"Oyez, Oyez, Good Gentles pray attend. The matches for the first round of the Golden Falcon Tournament are as follows: First match, Sir John the Smith meets Her Ladyship Lucia of Venice. Second Match: His Lordship Modar the Gray meets Lord William Williamson. Third match Lady Olga Ragnardottir meets the Gentle Robert Black."

Continue on such vein until all the matches are announced. Then say, "This round will be fought <name the weapons form that has been determined>."

Let the fighters clear the field. Check with the Marshal in Charge and see if they want full salutes or the abbreviated form. If there are several competitors, the shortened forms of salutes may be used until the last rounds. Ask the Marshal in Charge if they are ready for the fighters to be called. When the Marshall in Charge is ready, then say:

"To the field please, Sir John the Smith and Her Ladyship Lucia of Venice. Arm yourselves, please, Your Lordship Modar the Gray and Lord William Williamson. Lady Olga Ragnarsdottir and Robert Black, please prepare to arm." If possible, aim the announcements toward the individuals whose names you are calling.

When the two fighters position themselves on the field, you say:

"In this match Sir John the Smith (indicate the fighter) doth meet Her Ladyship Lucia of Venice (indicate fighter)." It is most appropriate to introduce the fighter of higher rank first.

"Good fighters, please salute the Crown."

"Please salute the one for whom you fight this day (or whose favor you bear)."

"Please salute your worthy opponent.

"Pray heed the marshal." (or, at the marshal's command, or My Lord Marshal the field is yours)."

Then get off the field!

(But stay nearby, close to the edge of the field -- but out of the way of the MoL.)

When the match is over, wait for the marshal to indicate the winner. Then return to the field and say:

"Victory to <title> <name>" or " <Title> <name> is victorious."

Then call the next three matches. Also, indicate on the cards who won or who lost the bout just completed and return the cards to the MoL.

This procedure continues until the end of the round at which time, after announcing the victor, the herald announces: "This ends the first round of combat."


A helpful warning for beginners

You might be tempted to "ham it up." After all, many people consider heralds to be jokesters who are always ready with a quick quip. We advise that "hamming it up" be done with caution, only around people you know, and only once you know the basics. There is a fine line between kidding someone you know and insulting someone you don't. As a beginner, you will have enough to think about just following the litany.


Tricks to the field heraldry trade

1. Who’s who?

Frequently you will encounter pairs of fighters whom you have never seen (especially if you are new or are helping to herald outside your local area). Who is who is something to be aware of before you start to announce the fight (although you'd be surprised how easy it is to forget to find out). At the end of the fight, when the victor is to be announced, you need to know which fighter is which so that you can indicate toward them when you announce the winner.

The first thing to do to help this problem is simply to be observant. If one fighter is wearing a white belt and gold chain and the other is not and one fighter is titled "Sir," your problem of deduction is solved. Likewise, if a fighter's arms are displayed on her shield and the arms cant (allude to) that fighter's name, your problem is likewise solved. But such is not always the case. When in doubt, ask someone. The marshal(s) most likely are aware of which fighter is which, and can tell you. Also, there is no shame in asking the fighters themselves which one is which. [Pick the friendlier looking of them to ask, of course.] It is necessary to ask only one fighter; one can deduce the other. Most fighters don't mind being asked who they are if you are unfamiliar with them. They do mind if you get it wrong later, so ask and then try to commit it to memory.

2. How do you pronounce that name?

A related problem is knowing how to pronounce the name of a combatant. Many names are not necessarily pronounced as they are written. As previously stated, hopefully before the tourney begins the Herald in Charge of Combat for the day will meet with the MoL and ask that phonetic spellings of names are put on the list cards along with the regular spellings. If this is not possible, then you need to be prepared to do some investigating if necessary. If you feel a name may be a problem (it looks very hard to pronounce when you read it on the list card), ask the fighter in question. Again, it is not offensive to ask. Actually it shows that you are concerned. However, should you mangle some fighter's name and there is a groan from the crowd, take it in good humor. You have plenty of company; every herald has been in the same situation. All you need do is take the fighter aside later and tell him how sorry you are that you mispronounced his name, and try to correct your mistake next time. (Do not make a public apology. Why? A herald stopping an activity to publicly announce their mistake and apologize is more distracting and embarrassing to everyone concerned (especially to the injured party) than is simply allowing the matter to drop until you can address it privately.)

3. Lady Fighters

Note above that the litany for the Salutes said: "Please salute the one for whom you fight this day (or whose favor you bear)." This is probably the form that will get you into the least trouble if one or both of the fighters are Ladies. This discriminates against none and therefore will keep you from getting in trouble, by saying, "Salute the Lady whose favor you bear." or such similar address. That way, no one will be offended.

Be aware of gender-specific phrases and switch to neutral phrases. If you don’t get into this habit early, you will one-day slip up and embarrass both yourself and a good gentle who is fighting.

4. Ranks and Titles

On the field, fighters may be announced by either their title and name, or their honorific and name. These are (ranked high to low):

Title       Honorific
King       His Majesty
Queen       Her Majesty
Prince       His Highness
Princess       Her Highness
Duke       His Grace
Duchess       Her Grace
Count       His Excellency
Countess       Her Excellency
Viscount       His Excellency
Viscountess       Her Excellency
Baron       His Excellency
Baroness       Her Excellency
[Knight]   (Use honorific only)   Sir (male or female), Dame (female)
Master at Arms   (peerage in fighting, but not a knight)   His Excellency (some kingdoms)
Mistress at Arms   (peerage in fighting, but not a knight)   Her Excellency (some kingdoms)
Master   (peerage but not in fighting)   His Excellency (some kingdoms)
Mistress   (peerage but not in fighting)   Her Excellency (some kingdoms)
[Grant-Level Award Holder]   (male)   His Lordship or The Honorable Lord
[Grant-Level Award Holder]   (female)   Her Ladyship or The Honorable Lady
Award-of-Arms Holder   (male)   Lord
Award-of-Arms Holder   (female)   Lady
Non-Award Holder   (male or female)   Gentle or Good Gentle

In deference to their ranks and stations, it is considered polite to announce the combatants in order with the highest ranked fighter first. Thus, one would announce "Duke William combats Lord John," rather than the other way around. The fighter's titles may be listed on their cards or not. The names may be in order or not. If not, speak with the MoL, and see if they can be so arranged.

5. Getting the fighters’ attention

Frequently, it is much more difficult for the fighters to hear you than it is for the populace. A fighter in a tourney may be distracted. They may already be armored up and have a helm on (which makes hearing difficult). You need to address calls to the field and the reading of the order of combat to the fighters in particular. Thus, one might start reading the order of combat by saying:

"My Lords and Ladies, FIGHTERS PRAY ATTEND. The order of combat for round one is as follows:"

When reading the order of combat, to avoid confusion, make sure that the pairs are delineated properly. Thus one should say:

"FIRST FIGHT, Count Gawain Wainwright VERSUS Sir John the Smith (pause)
"SECOND FIGHT, Lady Olga Ragnarsdottir VERSUS Gentle Robert Black."

Note the emphasis on the FIGHT/VERSUS formula. This helps to make the pairings clearest. In this way, you won't have Sir John the Smith coming up to ask you when it is that he fights Lady Olga Ragnarsdottir.

6. Second calls to the field

When a fighter does not answer a call to the field, a second call is usually in order. Make sure to ask the marshals or even the List Mistress before giving a second call to the field. There may be rules in place for that tourney regarding how many calls to the field will be given before a contestant is disqualified. As well, it is good politics to make sure that you are not overstepping your bounds.

7. Keeping things running quickly

One of the functions that a herald can perform is to help keep the lists running quickly. To save time, the litany of salutes are sometimes shortened or dropped entirely after the first round of combat. Note that the MiC should be consulted before doing this. When short on time, the herald should always be conscious of how long he is out on the field. You should be watching the field so that you get out onto the field to call the next fight as soon as the marshals indicate a victor in a match. Also, when you are finishing the introduction of the fighters, you can be backing off the field, so that when the litany "At the marshal's command you may begin" is finished, you are off the field and the fighting may truly proceed without any further delay. You'd be surprised how much time can be saved by this simple act. Of course, don't rush through the announcements that you do make: that might make them sound offensively hasty. Simply attend to time management.

8. Keeping the crowd informed and interested

Frequently there is something which the fighters should know about the format of the lists (such as whether byes are to be fought and by whom, whether in a double elimination tournament the final round is to be fought round robin, etc.) These things are of keen interest to the spectators as well, so you should make an effort to announce them as the opportunity arises during a round. You could say, for example, when announcing the order of combat for the round, " Lady Olga Ragnardottir combats the Gentle Robert Black, His Lordship Modar the Gray combats Lord William Williamson, Her Ladyship Lucia of Venice has drawn the bye which will be fought by Sir John the Smith."

A nice touch is to announce the end of the round, "This ends the X round" so the crowd and fighters know there's a break.

Usually at the beginning and the end of a tournament is when the general populace pays the most attention to a tournament. So it is natural that at these times that the most pageantry is added to the tournament. In some kingdoms they will blazon the arms carried by the combatants. This is usually done only in the first round, and in the final bout. This takes some preparation on the part of the herald in charge, but adds much to the ceremony of the event. For example, when the fighters are introduced, you would say:

"In this combat, His Lordship Modar the Gray, bearing the device Argent, a wolf rampant purpure, does combat with Lord William Williamson, bearing the device Azure, a sword proper between a pair of flaunches Or."

As you get to the end of the tourney, the crowd tends to sit up and pay attention. This is natural. As the tension builds (especially in an important tourney), you should allow "a bit of the showman" to appear. In the final round, you might emphasize the importance by saying something like:

"In this, the final round of this fifth Annual Golden Falcon Tournament, His Lordship Modar the Gray combats Her Ladyship Lucia of Venice."

Of course, as the crowd starts to pay attention, they are expecting more of the herald, too. Especially at the end, use your best dramatic voice. If you sound bored, the crowd will be bored.

9. Some points of diplomacy

It is important to verify the customs and laws of your kingdom concerning the specifics on policies. What are presented here are suggested guidelines, based on factors involving many Kingdoms.

It was once the tradition for a herald to announce when a fighter committed what was termed an act of chivalry, such as giving up the use of a shield when the opponent has lost one arm, and so on. There arose many arguments and controversies about whether an "act of chivalry" should be noted publicly at all. It is a sufficiently touchy subject that it is suggested that you never announce when a fighter has given up the use of a weapon in response to his opponent, except if the ruling noble asks that it be announced (and then, of course, do it). If the crowd applauds such an act then let them.

If the announcement is to be made at all, say something like: "Sir John the Smith has voluntarily relinquished the use of his shield." This is a less partisan way of stating the truth without getting into the dicey question of what constitutes a "Chivalric" act. After all, what one man may judge as chivalry, another may see as showboating, or even blatant stupidity.

Announce the victor of a fight (not the loser). The usual litany says: victory to X. If you ever change your litany for announcing combats, be sure you use such a form. It is better form to accentuate the positive. The last thing that the herald needs is a defeated fighter feeling that the heralds publicly shamed them further by announcing the loss.

Further, the herald must in all ways be quite careful when announcing fights and fighters to avoid favoritism. Under no circumstances should the herald be seen as applauding a victory on the field unless he does so for all fighters. Never, ever announce such a sentiment out loud such as: "victory, and a good thing too." The herald is in a public position. Play favorites, and you will build resentment. True, most heralds are tactful and diplomatic and would never purposefully say something hurtful, but even if it was only meant in jest, be careful: tempers run hot on the fighting field.

A point of mechanics: announce the winner only when a marshal indicates who it is (prompt a marshal from off-field if necessary). The marshals should indicate the victor of a fight by pointing their staves at the victor, but if they don't and there is any doubt in your mind, ask the marshals: "M'lord Marshal, is there a victor?" and get them to indicate one before coming out onto the field. Fighters sometimes take a very long time to die. Fighters may double kill each other with one dying in a second and another ten seconds later. Fighters may take a blow, fall down, consult, think about it and get back up again. If you have watched fighting as a spectator, you know that strange things can happen. For some reason, it always is particularly ironic and embarrassing for the herald to announce victory of the wrong person (and people are always trying to catch the herald in a mistake), so always be sure of who has won before announcing.

10. Safety on the fighting field

On the field, first and foremost, the herald's concern should be for safety - yours and others. Watch out for the following:

While the fight is in progress, make sure you are outside the list field. Let the marshals guard the field (with the rare exception that during melees, you may be asked to be a "side marshal" outside the field).

Never turn your back on the fighting; charges and overruns happen (especially during "team" fighting or melees). You never know what sort of armored battlewagon could be bearing down on you. If you have a herald's staff (it is heartily recommend that you have one) be prepared to use it to protect your body while getting out of the way.

Remember that the field marshals have primary control over the fighting field. For this reason, the herald should almost never call "Hold" or otherwise instruct the fighters on the field. It is for this reason that the herald should never say "Lay on," as this phrase is reserved to the marshals to tell the fighters to begin fighting. If a herald calls a "Hold," it is always for the purpose of preventing impending disaster. If that armored knight is about to squish the one-year-old who just crawled onto the field or if that knight's faceplate just flew open while a sword shot is flying toward her, yell "Hold" with your best herald's voice. In all other cases, such as observing a broken piece of armor on a fighter, the best policy is to call the attention of the marshals and allow them to deal with the fighters. The herald should never call "Hold" for any other fighting actions on the field such as a fighter dropping a weapon or a fighter on his knees falling to the ground. In truth, most heralds would not be tempted to call a "Hold" at all except for those heralds who are also fighters and so know of the conventions on the field.

Also, at times the marshal or fighter will call a hold to "calibrate" blows or to ask each other where a shot was seen to land. Even though the herald may be a keen spectator, he should not offer an opinion during such discussions (if he is on the field at all, which he probably shouldn't be) unless asked directly by the fighters.

In conclusion, leave controlling the fighters on the field to the marshals unless you have a very good reason: it makes for good safety and good politics.

11. Work with the MoL

In field heralding, the herald works closely with the Minister/Mistress of the Lists. It is necessary to get the already completed cards back to the MoL as quickly as possible so that the results can be recorded and the next round drawn. Usually the next herald up (or trainee or volunteer) is used to "run cards" to the MoL. If no such person is assigned, make sure that the job gets being done: either draft someone or be conscious of delivering them yourself between fights.

Be sure that you understand the card system that the MoL is using. There are primarily two card systems of which you should be aware.

Card system one:

In the first card system, each card contains one fight (the names and titles of both fighters plus a fight number) as shown below:

1) Duchess Mary Smith

2) Lord Eric the White

3) Sir John the Smith

Count Gawain Wainwright

Robert Black

Lord William Williamson

When a winner is determined, the herald circles the winner's name on the card (you should always have a pen ready for this purpose) and the card is returned to the MoL table. In this way, the MoL is informed of the victor of the fight (if they are unable to hear the announcement).

Card system two:

A second system now in use in some Kingdoms. It is easier and faster to use for the MoLs, but is slightly harder on the heralds. This system bears some explanation. In this card system, each name is listed only once on one card. Each fight is indicated with the identifying letter of the fighter's opponent for a given round. For instance:

Fighter A

Fighter B

Fighter C

Fighter D

1. B Won
2. D
1. A Lost 1. D Lost 1. C Won
2. A

When using this system, make especially sure that the cards are in order with the two combatants of a particular match consecutive. Cards are traditionally returned to the MoL with the victor's card atop the loser's.

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C) Feast Heraldry

This generally involves two things:

A) Announcing to the assembled feasters when the next course/remove of food is arriving and what it consists of. It is best to meet with the feastocrat (head cook, feast steward) prior to the serving of feast and making a list of the removes, and a set of signals to let you know when to announce the next remove.

B) Announcing any performers when it is time for them to perform.

NOTE: There are occasions when the Baronage and/or Royalty may wish to present an award at feast. This is like a mini-court. [See the Court Heraldry section.]

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D) Court Heraldry

This usually involves standing behind or next to the seats of the Crown (or other Ruling Nobles such Territorial Prince/Princess, Baronage, etc.) and calling forth from the assembled populace, those requested. This is most times followed by the reading of the text on the scroll of the award being given. Sometimes this duty can include the reading of oaths being administered or received. This usually required the herald to advance to the side of those participating in the oath and quietly reading the text to them in a slow manner for them to recite aloud.

NOTE: It is possible for the Crown to bring a personal herald with them to do court. However, it is the responsibility of the local herald to check and be sure how the ruling Nobles wish to handle the heralding of court.

The most important part of heralding any court is proper planning. You need to know what is going to go on at court, and in what order, so that the court proceedings will flow smoothly, with a minimum of effort for all concerned. While there is no "one true way" to herald a court, here is a checklist of steps that you as the court herald can use a basic guideline. This will list things that you need to think about and plan for to help insure that court will run smoothly.

Before the event

If you are fortunate enough to know in advance that you will be heralding a court at an event, you may want to get in touch with the Crown ahead of time and find out what Their plans are. If They already know what Their court business is going to be, then you can offer to make a list of it and work up a preliminary order in advance of the event, which can save both you and Them time on the day of the event.

If the Kingdom’s Principal Herald is also going to be in attendance, you should also check with them to see if they wish to handle the business of the court before speaking with the Crown.

Day of the event

If you will be heralding a court, or think you might be heralding a court at an event you will be going to, make sure that you take a notebook or covered clipboard, something to write with, your herald's tabard, and appropriate clothing, especially comfortable shoes.

Check in with the Crown early in the day. Even if They already know that you are going to be Their court herald, it lets Them know that you are on site and at Their disposal. Tell Them where you can be found during the day, and see if They know yet what the schedule for court is, and when They want to get together with you to set up court. If They don't yet know what the schedule is going to be, don't worry about it, but check back with Them occasionally so that when They do decide to start working on court They will know where to find you. Again, work with the Kingdom Principal Herald if applicable.

When you know that the time to start preparing for court is near, make whatever clothing changes you might be planning to make before you start any of the preparations; you won't have time later. Most important is to wear comfortable shoes!

1 1/2 to 2 hours before court

Get together with the Crown/Coronet and get the list of Their business for court (if you had not previously done so). This includes all awards, proclamations, etc. You need to make sure to cover the following details:

For any awards being given out, are the scrolls (promissories), tokens, etc. taken care of?

Have the scrolls all been signed? By both of the Monarchs?

Check the wording of the scrolls that you will be reading to make sure that the texts are correct. The scribes should have taken care of this, but you should double check. Also, make sure that you can read the writing on the scroll. If needed make "plain copy" of the text to read.

For any proclamations, etc., find out if They will be making the proclamation themselves or whether they want you to do it. You should always offer, perhaps even suggest (if you know that your voice is more up to the task than Theirs), but never insist.

For anybody whose name is being read for any reason, make sure that you know how to pronounce it correctly. If neither you nor the Crown is sure of how to pronounce it, get somebody to find out (surreptitiously, of course). Remember that nothing takes away from the special moment of getting an award like having your name mangled!

Find out if there will be anyone else holding court. If this is a baronial court and the King and/or Queen are there, do they wish to hold court? If this is a kingdom court, will the local baron and/or baroness be holding court within the royal court? If so, you will need to contact Them and see if arrangements for Their court need to be made. The Crown may choose to sit court (but not hold a Royal court) at a baronial court, or the Baronage may do likewise within a Royal court. These details will need to be acquired ahead of time.

Make sure that both Nobles have been consulted about business for court. If only One sits down with you to make the list of Their business, you may want to check with the Other to make sure that They don't have some other business that didn't make it onto the list. The royalty should be in communication with each other so that this wouldn't be necessary, but this isn't always the case.

Ask if They will have any opening words to say at the beginning of court (words of welcome, etc.) You don't need to know what they will be; this is just so you will remember to leave a spot on the agenda for them to do it.

Find out if you need to have a copy of the Book of Ceremonies on hand at court.

When you have the Crown's business, thank Them and tell Them that you will get back together with Them when you have collected business from the populace. Now review the Court's business to get an estimate of how long you think it will take in relation to how long you have for court. If you are short on time, you may need to ask that less pressing business from the populace be handled at another time.

Make an announcement (or have one made) that you are taking business for court from the populace. Make sure the announcement is made to all parts of the site; people in the kitchen are just as likely to have business for court, but much less likely to hear an announcement. Choose a location where people can come to you that is conspicuous (so that people can find you easily), but not where you, or the line of people waiting to talk to you, will be in the way. If you have not already done so, put on your herald's tabard so that you can be easily recognized.

When taking items of business from the populace, find out exactly what each item of business is: if it is a presentation, find out what is being presented; if it is an announcement, find out what is being announced; etc. You are not being nosy: it is your job. If people are reluctant to give you a full explanation, politely but firmly tell them that you must know the exact nature of the business in order to put it on the court agenda. Explain that this is to save the Crown, the populace, and/or the presenter from the embarrassment of an inappropriate presentation in court, as has occasionally happened in the past. If you are unsure about whether something is appropriate or not, check with a more experienced herald, or have the presenter discuss it directly with the royalty before adding it to the court agenda.

An exception to the above rule is made in the case of such people as kingdom officers or the autocrat. If they tell you that they, in their official capacity, have business before the crown, that is sufficient.

Note also that, in some Kingdoms, anything given to the crown in court is considered to be regalia (and thus belonging to the kingdom), whereas personal gifts should be given at some other time, such as when the royalty are sitting in state. This is the general rule for courts in those kingdoms, although exceptions have been made.

If there is anything that sounds like it will take a long time, you may want to suggest that it should be shortened or done at another time entirely, depending on how tight your schedule is. Anything that is a performance of any kind (i.e. a song, poem, skit, etc.) should be cleared directly with the Crown before putting it on the court agenda, since these things can take a lot of time and are almost always better done outside of court.

Make sure you know exactly who is to be called up, and how they wish to be announced. For example, if the Kingdom Seneschal wishes to make an announcement, does he wish to be called up as "The Kingdom Seneschal" or by his name and title? Also, make sure that you know the correct pronunciation of all names. Write them down phonetically so that you will be able to pronounce them later: how they are really spelled doesn't matter.

If an announcement is being made, ask if the person wants to come up and make the announcement themselves or to have you make it for them. If the person wants to make the announcement themselves, remind them of the necessity to make themselves heard to the entire hall. If they don't have a strong voice, you may wish to encourage them to let you make the announcement.

Five minutes before you are through collecting court business from the populace, make another announcement that is a "last call" for business.

When you have collected all of the populace's court business, go back and find the royalty and ask to sit down with them and order the business for court. Some royalty will want to be very involved with this process, and others will ask you to do it yourself and then present it to them for their approval. In either case, these are some general guidelines for setting up the order of court:

If the royalty wishes to address the populace, this should always be the first item of business, unless They have specified otherwise.

After the "words of the Crown" (if any), the next item(s) should always be any envoys or ambassadors who have requested an audience.

Once these two requirements have been met, in general court should build from lesser matters at the beginning to greater matters toward the end. Thus, you should try to schedule lesser awards and simpler presentations toward the beginning of court, and greater awards and more elaborate presentations toward the end (and any peerages should always come last, unless the Crown specifically directs you otherwise).

Court should have an interesting mixture of activities in order to keep people's interest. Don't put all the awards in one place, and all the presentations in another - mix them in together. Not only does this make the court more interesting, but it also makes the flow of people in and out of court easier.

If there is more than one of an award being given out, find out if there is a particular order or grouping that the royalty wishes to use. While it is generally desirable to call only one person at a time up to receive an award, there are times when two or more people will be called up at once to receive the same award (such as a lord and lady who are a couple).

The royalty will probably want to know something about what the items of business from the populace are. If a presentation is to be a surprise, you can describe it in general terms, such as: "The Barony of XYZ has a presentation." If They want to know more, you can say something like: "They wish it to be a surprise for Your Majesties, but I have checked it out and it is an appropriate presentation for court." (You did remember to do that, didn't you?) If They still insist on knowing what the presentation is, you must tell them, even if the surprise will be spoiled. Remember that these are guidelines only, and that ultimately the royalty has the final say. Here, again, you can suggest, you can remind, but only They can insist!

Take care of any other last minute details with the royalty, which might include such things as: Find out if They will be processing in, or will being court seated. Also, find out if They will be recessing out at the end of court. If there are any "scripted" parts to court (e.g. an award ceremony), in which the royalty has a part, make sure that They know what their parts are and that They have a chance to review them. If you are at all unsure of any name pronunciations, especially those of the monarchs themselves, or anything else about the monarchs' wishes for court, now is the time to ask. Find out how long you have until court (important!).

If you did not do so while arranging court with the royalty, write up the final agenda that you will use to conduct court. This may consist of rewriting the entire agenda, or merely writing numbers by the items in the order that they will be used. What method you use will depend on your personal preference and the size of the court. However, it is important that someone else be able to read and understand your agenda, in case they should have to assist you.

By now, someone will probably have come running up to you with some piece of business that they just have to get into the court agenda, and they didn't hear the announcement, and, and...

Evaluate the business that they have just like the ones you had before. If it really is something that needs to be done in spite of its late arrival (and how much it needs to be done may depend on how full your agenda already is), then adjust the agenda in an appropriate place, making sure to tell the royalty about it before court. If there are any questions, have that person talk directly to the royalty.

15 minutes before court

If there is going to be another person helping you with court, such as a scribe or another herald to keep track of the scrolls and hand them to you at the proper time, make sure that you get together with them and that they understand the agenda. Make sure that any award scrolls are in the order that they will be given out so that you can get to them easily when they are called for during court. Once again, make sure that you (and your assistant) can pronounce all of the names. Make sure you have a cup of something (non-alcoholic) to drink situated behind the thrones where you will be able to get to it during court.

Go back to the royalty and let Them know that you are ready for court to begin. If They did not arrange the order of court with you, have Them look over the order that you have come up with and approve it. Make sure that if you have been given any new items of business since you showed Them the agenda, that you inform the Monarchs of them now.

Ask if They want an announcement made to assemble the populace for court, or how long it will be until court.

When court is ready to begin

If the royalty are processing in, wait until they signal that they are ready. As you lead the royalty down the aisle, announce Them to the populace, such as:

"Oyez! Oyez! All rise and pay homage to Their Royal Majesties _____ and _____, King and Queen of Calontir."

If there are others who are processing (other dignitaries, not the royalty's attendants), wait until the royalty have arrived at the thrones and are standing facing the populace, and then announce the next dignitaries. Repeat until all who are processing have been announced and come into court. Be careful not to announce the next processor(s) if the monarchs are still greeting the last ones. When all who are processing have done so, the royalty will take their seats.


If the monarchs are beginning court already seated, open court with an announcement such as:

"Oyez! Oyez! Pay heed now to this, the court of _____ and _____, King and Queen of Calontir," or "Oyez! Oyez! Here begins the court of _____ and _____, Baron and Baroness of _____," or something similar.

If they have not given their permission before now, ask (quietly) if the populace has the monarchs' leave to be seated. When They give permission, announce it to the populace.


Conduct the court according to the agenda that you have prepared. Remember though, if the royalty decides to include some new item, or delete an item, or reorder things entirely, they have the right to do so, and it is up to you to cope with it the best you can. This is why having a well-organized agenda is essential in order to adapt to such changes.

Announce each person (or group) that is being called into court loudly and clearly. Be looking up at the populace, not down at your notes when you do so. Not only does this help you to project better, but it keeps you from yelling into the monarchs' ears.

As you scan the populace, if you do not see any activity that would indicate that the person was on their way, announce the name again. If there is still no response, and the person is being called up for an award, ask the monarchs if they wish a representative called forward; if so, ask for a representative; if not, go on to the next item. If the called person shows up later, let the royalty know, and then call them forward at the next available opportunity.

For presentations: After the presentation has been made, announce to the populace what has been presented -- however, be careful not to step on the conversation between the royalty and the presenter(s). You may wish to use a little poetic license in your description of the presentation, for example: "A gift of fruit of the vine" sounds better than "They gave them a bottle of wine." (Just don't get carried away and get "cutesy").

For awards: No matter how many awards are being given, each one is very important to the person who is receiving it: treat each one accordingly. Read an Award of Arms scroll with the same reverence that you would read a peerage scroll. Remember that for many people, an Award of Arms is the only award that they will ever receive, so you should never spoil their moment by treating it as "just another Award of Arms."

Award Scrolls: As each award is approaching on the agenda, let the person who is handling the scrolls know whose scroll you are about to need, so that they will have it ready (or if you are handling them yourself, get it ready). There will usually be an opportunity to do this sometime during the preceding item of business.

Cheers: For each person who receives an award, you lead the populace in cheers. Remember not to do this until the award has actually been conferred, and until the monarchs are through speaking. For things other than awards, you may need to check with the royalty to see if they want cheers done; especially for presentations - some monarchs want cheers for every presentation, some only for certain ones, and some not at all. If you are not sure, ask.

When each item of business has been completed, and the person(s) involved are withdrawing, you should go ahead and announce the next item. This helps keep court from dragging on unnecessarily. Make sure that you do not make an announcement that no one will be able to hear because the hall is still buzzing loudly from the last thing that happened. Wait until you will be able to be heard, then go on with court.

Pay attention to the royalty. Especially, watch and listen for Them to say something to you; They may not turn Their heads toward you before They do. Most often this will be to ask you what is coming up next, or how much of court is left.

When you are through with court business:

When all of the items of business on the agenda are complete, inform the royalty, and ask Them if They have any further business, even if They had told you previously that They would have none. This gives Them the chance to say any last minute things to the populace that They may have thought of. It also saves you from the potential embarrassment of announcing that there is no further business, only to have the royalty interrupt you to say that there is.

When the monarchs are finished, announce that there is no further business before the court. If the royalty is processing out, wait while they do so. Finally, announce to the populace that they "have Their Majesties'/Excellencies' leave to depart and go about their business," or something similar.

Later: (After Court)

Check back with the royalty to make sure that there were no problems with the way that you handled court, so that you will know better next time (don't be upset by any criticism - learn from it!). This is especially true if it is the first time you have heralded for these monarchs.

Make sure that someone has kept track of the awards that were given, so that a list can be sent to the Principal Herald (or appropriate Deputy Herald). Sometimes the royalty Themselves will do this, sometimes They will have someone else doing it. If not, it becomes your job!

As was said before, these are merely guidelines for what you need to do and think about in heralding a court - there is no one true way to do it. Each court, and each set of royalty will have different requirements, but this checklist should give you a good idea of what the basic elements and procedures are for heralding court at either the kingdom or baronial level.

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E) Award Reports

If you act as herald-in-charge of a court, you must send an Awards Report for that court (usually within ten days of the court) to the Kingdom Principal Herald (or appropriate Deputy Herald). The herald-in-charge of an event is usually the herald of the group in which the event is held. If a Crown court is held at a local event, even if he did not herald the court, the local herald should still send an Awards Report for the court which took place. Redundant Awards reports can't hurt. It only insures that nothing is forgotten.

Be certain that the event and dates are printed correctly on the form and SCA names are correctly spelled as registered with the College of Heralds.

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F) Processionals

It is not uncommon a vocal herald to be called upon to participate in a processionals. In some Kingdoms, processionals are done at the more formal tourneys (such as Crown Tourney), where the entrants to the list and the one for whom they are fighting are presented to the reigning Crown with a herald announcing them.

If fact, if there is a shortage of heralds, a vocal herald might find themselves presenting to the Crown several different entrants. Whether for this type of processional, or another, a vocal herald can find themselves suddenly being asked to act for one of the participants of the processional, announcing their name, awards, and blazoning (and possibly that of a consort). This is one of the times you should be at your most dignified and most prepared.

Have index cards handy. Get with whoever has asked you to herald for them and write down the following information:

Name and Titles (spell it phonetically if necessary).

Awards: Remember, most awards begin with: "Companion of the Order of…" (the Laurel, the Pelican, the Calon Cross, etc). A knight is given as Knight of the Society. If in doubt of the correct terminology, consult your copy of Kingdom Law, or Herald’s Handbook.

Blazon of their heraldic device: This is the written description of their device. State this by saying, "Bearing the arms, <heraldic description>" Should they not have a device; continue on to the next part.

Transition into the consorts information (if applicable). Such phrases one might use are: "Carrying the Favor of his/her consort, < Consort’s Name & Titles>." or "Fighting for his/her consort, < Consort’s Name & Titles>."

Awards of the Consort: Do as stated previously

Blazon of Consort's Device: Again, do as previously stated.

If presenting people to the Crown/Ruling Noble in a processional, always wait until the group ahead of you has completed their turn and made their bows to the Crown/Ruling Noble before beginning your heralding. Remember, it is your job to make your patron sound important through your posture, voice, pace, and general presence.

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G) A Vocal Herald's Attire

Traditions and law vary from Kingdom to Kingdom. Check with your Kingdom Principal Herald for what is allowed. In some Kingdoms a herald has to obtain a certain rank before they are allowed to wear a tabard,

although a baldric is okay for any herald at any rank in any Kingdom. The most common symbol used for the heralds in the SCA is the insignia of the crossed gold trumpets. [Vert, two straight trumpets crossed in saltire, bells to chief, Or.] Although some places are switching to using the arms of the group (which emulates historical practice). Many are utilizing both. (For baldrics, a green sash with the gold cross trumpets and a small shield with the group arms beneath it. For tabards, the front and back are composed of the group arms, with the sleeves being green with gold crossed trumpets on it.)

It is important for vocal heralds to wear some kind of distinguishing garb to make them highly visible. (This is doubly important when heralding in combat situations!) So whenever you are performing the duties of a herald, but especially during formal tournaments and other occasions of "high estate" such as courts, you should have on your "greenwear". There is something satisfying in seeing heralds "in uniform," both for the heralds and for the populace.

Another useful piece of heraldic "regalia" is a staff. Although not required, it can be extremely useful. Some heralds use plain staves, other will decorate them with green and gold ribbons or bells. It can be pounded on the floor, or waved in the air after a cry of "Oyez" to get attention, and it lends dignity to the herald. It can also be used as an emergency marshalling staff, should you be "overrun" at a tourney. (However, they can get in the way when you are juggling a set of index cards on the tourney field.)

Some suggestions for making heraldic paraphernalia:

The baldric is the easiest to make. This is a simple green sash with crossed gold trumpets on the front. Additionally, your group arms can be added underneath the trumpets. It is a long rectangular piece that is usually worn from the left shoulder to the right hip, and pinned there. While some people will make these out of velvet or satin for a fancier appearance, it is suggest that you use a sturdy and washable material instead, such as broadcloth or trigger.

A simple type of tabard is simply two yards of cloth, approximately shoulder width, sewn at the top with an opening for the head. A slight curving of the neckline is recommended, and ties at the side can help hold it in place when worn. The simplest are made of green cloth with the gold crossed trumpets on the front and back. In many areas, heralds use the device of their group instead, then add a cap. (The cap is a semi-circle with the straight edge sewn onto where the front and back pieces are sewn together at the shoulder.) The caps are green with gold crossed trumpets on them.

A good heraldic staff is usually between five and six feet tall. It can be made from a natural piece of wood or made from a manufactured piece (such as a two-inch dowel used for stair railings). To add to its appearance and overall effect, it can be decorating with ribbons, painted (plain or with designs), or have bells attached. Historically, a herald carried a white baton, many times with a knob on the ends.

Another important accouterment is a pouch with index cards, pens, pencils, etc. If you always carry a few of these items with you it can help avoid a last-minute panic.

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H) Getting started in Vocal Heralding

If you are interested in getting started field heralding, approach the vocal herald in charge at an event when heralds are called for. Make sure you have 3x5 cards at the ready to write down any litany you might not remember. This is a necessary teaching device. Do not be embarrassed to use it. Even experienced and senior heralds will have the cards ready, just in case. Pick out and approach a more experienced herald and ask them to act as a "mentor" or "teacher." The person you pick should be willing/able to stand close by on the edge of the field and point out what you can improve. Get in the early rounds of a tournament or get in a small tourney; that way, there's less pressure and learning can be some fun.

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I) General Advice

These tips refer to doing any kind of vocal heraldry.

1. Projection

To be a good vocal herald the primary requirement is the ability to be heard, understood, and maintain your voice over long periods of heralding. To accomplish this you need to be able to project the way actors and singers do.

A main factor in good projection is posture. By standing straight, with your stomach in and head up, you allow your diaphragm to do most of the work. The diaphragm is composed of a wall of muscles under your lungs. As with any muscle group, exercise (practice) tones the muscles. The only way to avoid abusing your larynx is by using your diaphragm to push the air from the bottom of your lungs upward. Additionally you get the advantage of creating a resonating chamber with this method, which in turn helps your voice carry. The air flow through your vocal cords (actually the vocal folds - the long, narrow, rounded flaps of tissue in your larynx is what gives vocalization to your words. It is very important for a vocal herald to master breath control.

Another factor of projection is timbre or pitch. Timbre is created by the vocal folds. The rate of vibration of the folds is what causes different sounds and pitches. Shouting causes these muscles to tighten and strain. It is important while heralding to keep your voice in its normal range, using the regulation of air to produce the volume. Varying your pitch too much can seriously damage your voice. While it is true that lower timbres have more carrying power, individuals with higher pitched voices should not strain themselves to attain the lower tones. Difficulty in maintaining your normal pitch while projecting is a sure sign your vocal folds are getting tired.

Besides yourself, there are factors that can affect your projection. Primarily these are clothing and the environment. For good projection, it is very important that you are able to expand your diaphragm and lungs. Restrictive clothing such as snug Elizabethan tunics or tight Tudor bodices may look beautiful, but the confinement that it does to your body restricts your airflow. This in turn will result in projection that carries less.

The environment can also affect your projection. If you in a building with good acoustics, then you can project well, with little effort. On the other hand, if you are doing heraldic crying outdoors, you have to deal with wind and terrain. To help you project better, try to stand on high ground and tilt your head a little higher. This will cause your voice to carry farther around you. Usually, you should direct your announcements to the largest group of people (avoiding turning your back on the Crown). If there is wind, try to keep it to your back and use it to help carry your words.

Work on developing your projection between events, by trying several projection exercises.

Exercises for Projection

a) Take a deep breath, pulling in your stomach to lift the diaphragm. Slowly let it out until you feel you have no air left in your lungs, still keeping your stomach tight. Repeat this several times. Now, do the same thing while saying vowels sounds. Say "ah," holding it as long as you can. Repeat using "ee," and then with "ai", then with "oh", and finally "oo." If you rest your fingers just under your ribcage you can feel your diaphragm muscles working. If you don't, you're doing it wrong.

b) Have someone stand two feet from you and speak in a normal voice. Then ask that person to step ten feet from you and project the same announcement to them. Next, ask them to move back forty feet and project the announcement to them there. This teaches control and helps you develop pronunciation skills as well.

c) Lie on your back. Pull in your stomach muscles and lift your diaphragm. Place a small glass of water on your stomach. Let your breath out slowly so as not to spill the water.

2. Articulation

A very important part of projection is articulation, the ability to pronounce words with clarity, intelligibility, and distinctiveness. It doesn't do any good to hear the sounds a herald makes if the words can't be understood. There are two basic approaches to articulation in the SCA, which are generally referred to as Precision speaking and Rhythmic Chant speaking.

Rhythmic Chanting speaking is a system used to create a melodic flow of words. The herald practically sings the announcements, rolling words together for musical effect. Such heralding is a joy to hear, but frequently difficult to understand.

Precision speaking reflects normal speech patterns, emphasizing clarity of pronunciation and accenting stressed syllables. This technique requires that you speak more slowly, making it easier for your audience to understand.

3. Pronunciation

As a vocal herald you will be called upon to pronounce names from a variety of linguistic origins. It is impossible for one herald to know all the different language patterns from which the members derive their personas. So while a herald should always try to pronounce names correctly, don’t get upset if you do make a mistake. Everyone makes them. Simply apologize, go on, and try to get it right next time.

But beyond concerning themselves with having to pronounce a variety of names, vocal heralds have to concern themselves with being precise in their pronunciation of normal words as well. It does no good for the populace to hear the herald slur the announcement "Amorinaspectaquartaten." What the people need to hear is the herald say, "Armor inspection at a quarter to ten." To assist in this, it is recommended that vocal heralds do a few exercises before they make announcements.

Exercises for Pronunciation

a) Warm up your throat and face muscles by pursing your lips hard, then quickly pulling them back into a tight-lipped grimace. Repeat this several times. (If should start to feel a slight tingle in your lips.) This warming exercise will help you pronounce words more clearly and correctly

b) Another loosening exercise is to open your mouth as wide as you can, as if you are yawning. After you do this, bring your lips together as you thrust your jaw forward. Repeat a few times. Then move your lower jaw from left to right several times. (But be careful not to move too far to one side or the other. You can strain the muscles and ligaments if you do.)

c) Next, stand up straight, and using good posture, breathe slowly and deeply and then vocalize the vowel sounds. They are all throat sounds and will help warm up those muscles. First "ah, ah, ah," then "eee, eee, eee," then "ai, ai, ai," then "oh, oh, oh," and finally "oo, oo, oo".

d) Finally, to prepare for those front-of-the-mouth sounds, stand up straight, and using good posture, breathe slowly and deeply and then vocalize these sounds: "da, da, da," then "fa, fa, fa," then "la, la, la," then "ma, ma, ma," then "pa, pa, pa," then, "ra, ra, ra" and finally "ta, ta, ta."



An eclectic variety of sources spawned this compilation (done by Modar Neznanich), including:
Calontir Herald’s Handbook by Lord Madoc Arundel, Gold Falcon Herald
East Kingdom Herald’s Handbook by Lord Thomas de Castellon, Treblerose Herald
Outlands Herald’s Handbook by Lord Timothy O'Brien, Weel Pursuivant
A Guide for Field Heralds by Lady Ayslynn merch Guincatan, P.E.
A Herald’s Guide to Surviving Court by Lord Eldred Ælfwald, Gordian Knot Herald
SCA Field Heraldry by Lord Lancelin Peregrinus, Flaming Gryphon Pursuivant Emeritus
SCA Tournament Heraldry by Lord Lancelin Peregrinus, Flaming Gryphon Pursuivant Emeritus
SCA Event Heraldry by Lord Lancelin Peregrinus, Flaming Gryphon Pursuivant Emeritus
Field Heraldry Taran of Windy Hill
Vocal Exercises by Jennifer Tillman
Various communications via SCAHRLDS weblist
Various in-person discussions with a variety of heralds the last 20 years
Various notes and proto-articles compiled over the last 20 years

Webpage hosting ©1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Ron "Modar" Knight
Baron Modar Neznanich, OPel, Volk Herald

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